November 2014
<< prev. next >>

Print ISSN: 0031-0247
Online ISSN: 2274-0333
Frequency: biannual

Article Management

You must log in to submit or manage articles.

You do not have an account yet ? Sign up.

PalaeovertebrataVol.38-1: 2014
<< prev. article next article >>

A new and primitive species of Protophiomys (Rodentia, Hystricognathi) from the late middle Eocene of Djebel el Kébar, Central Tunisia
Laurent Marivaux, El M. Essid, Wissem Marzougui, Hayet Khayati Ammar, Sylvain Adnet, Bernard Marandat, Gilles Merzeraud, Rodolphe Tabuce and Monique Vianey-Liaud
Keywords: Adaptive radiation; Bartonian; dental morphology; North Africa; Paleobiogeography

doi: 10.18563/pv.38.1.e2

Cite this article: Marivaux L., Essid E. M., Marzougui W., Khayati Ammar H., Adnet S., Marandat B., Merzeraud G., Tabuce R., Vianey-Liaud M., 2014. A new and primitive species of Protophiomys (Rodentia, Hystricognathi) from the late middle Eocene of Djebel el Kébar, Central Tunisia. Palaeovertebrata 38 (1)-e2. doi: 10.18563/pv.38.1.e2

Export citation


Based on fossil discoveries and phylogenetic studies, an Eocene Asian origin for hystricognathous rodents and anthropoid primates has gained strong support in recent years. The two groups then invaded both Africa and South America, which promoted their evolutionary success. However, the fossil record has so far failed to constrain the nature and precise timing of these pivotal dispersal events. In Africa, given the apparent absence of hystricognaths and anthropoids in early to early middle Eocene localities, it is suggested that these mammal groups dispersed from Asia to Africa sometime during the middle Eocene. In this paper, we report the discovery of several isolated teeth of a rodent from a new vertebrate locality situated in central Tunisia (Djebel el Kébar, KEB-1), dating from the late middle Eocene (Bartonian, ~39.5 Myr). These fossils document a diminutive new species of Protophiomys (P. tunisiensis nov. sp.), a basal genus of hystricognathous rodents which is well known from several North African mammalian-bearing localities of the end of the Eocene. The teeth of P. tunisiensis display a suite of anatomical details comparable with those observed in the other species of the genus, but with a lesser degree of development. Such an apparent primitive evolutionary stage is corroborated by the greater antiquity of this Tunisian species. P. tunisiensis nov. sp. is so far the most ancient representative of hystricognaths in Africa. However, it can be expected that hystricognaths were already present on that landmass given the new data on early caviomorphs recently reported from South America (at ~41 Myr). The arrival of hystricognaths in Africa from South Asia certainly predates the depositional period of the Kébar sediments, but perhaps not by much time. 

Published in Vol.38-1 (2014)


Adaci, M., Tabuce, R., Mahboubi, M., Bensalah, M., Fabre, P.-H., Hautier, L., Marivaux, L., Mebrouk, F., Lazzari, V., Otéro, O., Peigné, S., Tong, H., Jaeger, J.-J., 2007. Nouveaux sites à vertébrés paléogènes dans la région des Gour Lazib et Glib Zegdou (Sahara Nord-occidental, Algérie). Comptes Rendus Palevol 6, 535-544.
Antoine, P. O., Marivaux, L., Croft, D. A., Billet, G., Ganerød, M., Jaramillo, C., Martin, T., Orliac, M. J., Tejada, J., Altamirano, A. J., Duranthon, F., Fanjat, G., Rousse, S., Salas-Gismondi, R., 2012. Middle Eocene rodents from Peruvian Amazonia reveal the pattern and timing of caviomorph origins and biogeography. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 279, 1319-1326.
Barbière, F., Marivaux, L., in press. Phylogeny and evolutionary history of hystricognathous rodents from the Old World during the Tertiary: new insights into the emergence of modern “phiomorph” families. In: Cox, F. G., Hautier, L. (Eds.), Evolution of the Rodents: Advances in Phylogenetics, Functional Morphology and Development. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Beard, K. C., Qi, T., Dawson, M. R., Wang, B., Li, C., 1994. A diverse new primate fauna from middle Eocene fissure-fillings in southeastern China. Nature 368, 604-609.
Beard, K. C., Tong, Y., Dawson, M. R., Wang, J., Huang, X., 1996. Earliest complete dentition of an anthropoid primate from the late middle Eocene of Shanxi Province, China. Science 272, 82-85.
Beard, K. C., Wang, J., 2004. The eosimiid primates (Anthropoidea) of the Heti Formation, Yuanqu Basin, Shanxi and Henan Provinces, People’s Republic of China. Journal of Human Evolution 46, 401-432.
Beard, K. C., Marivaux, L., Chaimanee, Y., Jaeger, J.-J., Marandat, B., Tafforeau, P., Soe, A. N., Tun, S. T., Kyaw, A. A., 2009. A new primate from the Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar and the monophyly of Burmese amphipithecids. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 276, 3285-3294.
Bohaty, S. M., Zachos, J. C., Florondo, F., Delaney, M. L., 2009. Coupled greenhouse warming and deep-sea acidification in the middle Eocene. Paleoceanography 24, PA2207.
Chaimanee, Y., Suteethorn, V., Jaeger, J.-J., Ducrocq, S., 1997. A new late Eocene anthropoid primate from Thailand. Nature 385, 429-431.
Chaimanee, Y., Chavasseau, O., Beard, K. C., Kyaw, A. A., Soe, A. N., Sein, C., Lazzari, V., Marivaux, L., Marandat, B., Swe, M., Rugbumrung, M., Lwin, T., Valentin, X., Thein, Z. M. M., Jaeger, J.-J., 2012. A new middle Eocene primate from Myanmar and the initial anthropoid colonization of Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 109, 10293–10297.
Chaimanee, Y., Chavasseau, O., Lazzari, V., Euriat, A., Jaeger, J.-J., 2013. A new Late Eocene primate from the Krabi Basin (Thailand) and the diversity of Palaeogene anthropoids in southeast Asia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 280, 1471-2954.
Coster, P., Benammi, M., Lazzari, V., Billet, G., Martin, T., Salem, M., Bilal, A. A., Chaimanee, Y., Schuster, M., Valentin, X., Brunet, M., Jaeger, J.-J., 2010. Gaudeamus lavocati sp. nov. (Rodentia, Hystricognathi) from the early Oligocene of Zallah, Libya: first African caviomorph? Naturwissenschaften 97, 697-706.
Coster, P., Benammi, M., Mahboubi, M., Tabuce, R., Adaci, M., Marivaux, L., Bensalah, M., Mahboubi, S., Mahboubi, A., Maameri, C., Jaeger, J.-J., 2012a. Chronology of the early-middle continental Eocene deposits of Africa: magnetic stratigraphy and biostratigraphy of the El Kohol and Glib Zegdou formations, Algeria. Geological Society of America Bulletin 124, 1590-1606.
Coster, P., Benammi, M., Salem, M., Bilal, A. A., Chaimanee, Y., Valentin, X., Brunet, M., Jaeger, J.-J., 2012b. New hystricognath rodents from the lower Oligocene of Central Libya (Zallah Oasis, Sahara desert): systematic, phylogeny and biochronologic implications. Annals of Carnegie Museum 80, 239-259.
Dawson, M. R., Marivaux, L., Li, C.-K., Beard, K. C., Métais, G., 2006. Laonastes and the “lazarus effect” in Recent mammals. Science 311, 1456-1458.
de Bruijn, H., Ünay, E., Saraç, G., Yïlmaz, A., 2003. A rodent assemblage from the Eo/Oligocene boundary interval near Süngülü, Lesser Caucasus, Turkey. In: López-Martínez, N., Peláez-Campomanes, P., Henández Fernández, M. (Eds.), Coloquios de Paleontologia. En honor al Dr. Remmert Daams. Surrounding fossil mammals: dating, evolution and paleoenvironment. Facultad de Ciencias Geologicas Departamento de Paleontologia, Madrid, pp. 47-76.
Fejfar, O., 1987. Oligocene rodents from Zallah Oasis, Libya. Münchner Geowiss Abhandlungen A 10, 265-268.
Flynn, L. J., Jacobs, L. L., Cheema, I. U., 1986. Baluchimyinae, a new ctenodactyloid rodent subfamily from the Miocene of Baluchistan. American Museum Novitates 2841, 1-58.
Flynn, L. J., Cheema, I. U., 1994. Baluchimyine Rodents from the Zinda Pir Dome, Western Pakistan : systematic and biochronologic  implications. In: Tomida, Y., Li, C., Setoguchi, T. (Eds.), Rodents and Lagomorph Families of Asian Origins and Diversification. National Science Museum Monographs, Tokyo, Kyoto, pp. 115-129.
Hartenberger, J. L., Crochet, J.-Y., Martinez, C., Feist, M., Godinot, M., Mannai Tayech, B., Marandat, B., Sigé, B., 1997. Le gisement de mammifères de Chambi (Eocène, Tunisie centrale) dans son contexte géologique. Apport à la connaissance de l’évolution des mammifères en Afrique. In: Aguilar, J.-P., Legendre, S., Michaux, J. (Eds.), Actes du Congrès BiochroM’97. Mémoires des Travaux de l’E.P.H.E., Montpellier, pp. 263-274.
Huchon, D., Catzeflis, F. M., Douzery, E. J.-P., 2000. Variance of molecular datings, evolution of rodents, and the phylogenetic affinities between Ctenodactylidae and Hystricognathi. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 267, 393-402.
Huchon, D., Chevret, P., Jordan, U., Kilpatrick, C. W., Ranwez, V., Jenkins, P. D., Brosius, J., Schmitz, J., 2007. Multiple molecular evidences for a living mammalian fossil. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 104, 7495-7499.
Hussain, S. T., De Bruijn, H., Leinders, J. M., 1978. Middle Eocene Rodents from the Kala Chitta Range (Punjab, Pakistan). Palaeontology 81, 101-112.
International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), 1999. International code of zoological nomenclature (4th ed.). The International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature, London.
Jaeger, J.-J., Denys, C., Coiffait, B., 1985. New Phiomorpha and Anomaluridae from the late Eocene of North-West Africa: phylogenetic implications. In: Luckett, W. P., Hartenberger, J.-L. (Eds.), Evolutionary Relationships among Rodents, A Multidisciplinary Analysis. Plenum Press, New York, London, pp. 567-588.
Jaeger, J.-J., Thein, T., Benammi, M., Chaimanee, Y., Soe, A. N., Lwin, T., Wai, S., Ducrocq, S., 1999. A new primate from the middle Eocene of Myanmar and the Asian early origin of anthropoids. Science 286, 528-530.
Jaeger, J.-J., Marivaux, L., 2005. Shaking the earliest branches of anthropoid primate evolution. Science 310, 244-245.
Jaeger, J.-J., Marivaux, L., Salem, M., Bilal, A. A., Chaimanee, Y., Marandat, B., Valentin, X., Duringer, P., Schuster, M., Benammi, M., Métais, E., Brunet, M., 2010a. New rodent assemblages from the Eocene Dur at-Talah escarpment (Sahara of Central Libya): systematic, biochronologic and paleobiogeographic implications. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 160, 195-213.
Jaeger, J.-J., Beard, K. C., Chaimanee, Y., Salem, M., Benammi, M., Hlal, O. A., Coster, P., Bilal, A. A., Duringer, P., Schuster, M., Valentin, X., Marandat, B., Marivaux, L., Métais, E., Hammuda, O., Brunet, M., 2010b. Late middle Eocene epoch of Libya yields earliest known radiation of African anthropoids. Nature 467, 1095-1098.
Kay, R. F., 2012. Evidence for an Asian origin of stem anthropoids. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 109, 10132–10133.
Korvenkontio, V. A., 1934. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen an Nagerincisiven unter Hinweis auf die Schmelzstruktur der Backenzähne. Annales Zoologici Societatis Zoologici - Botanicae Fennicae Vanamo 2, 1-274.
Marivaux, L., Benammi, M., Ducrocq, S., Jaeger, J.-J., Chaimanee, Y., 2000. A new baluchimyine rodent from the Late Eocene of the Krabi Basin (Thailand): paleobiogeographic and biochronologic implications. Comptes rendus de l’Académie des Sciences 331, 427-433.
Marivaux, L., Welcomme, J.-L., Vianey-Liaud, M., Jaeger, J.-J., 2002. The role of Asia in the origin and diversification of hystricognathous rodents. Zoologica Scripta 31, 225-239.
Marivaux, L., Welcomme, J.-L., 2003. Diatomyid and baluchimyine rodents from the Oligocene of Pakistan (Bugti Hills, Balochistan): systematic and paleobiogeographic implications. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 23, 420-434.[0420:NDABRF]2.0.CO;2
Marivaux, L., Vianey-Liaud, M., Jaeger, J.-J., 2004. High-level phylogeny of early Tertiary rodents: dental evidence. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 142, 105-132.
Marivaux, L., Antoine, P.-O., Baqri, S. R. H., Benammi, M., Chaimanee, Y., Crochet, J.-Y., De Franceschi, D., Iqbal, N., Jaeger, J.-J., Métais, G., Roohi, G., Welcomme, J.-L., 2005a. Anthropoid primates from the Oligocene of Pakistan (Bugti Hills): data on early anthropoid evolution and biogeography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 102, 8436-8441.
Marivaux, L., Ducrocq, S., Jaeger, J.-J., Marandat, B., Sudre, J., Chaimanee, Y., Tun, S. T., Htoon, W., Soe, A. N., 2005b. New remains of Pondaungimys anomaluropsis (Rodentia, Anomaluroidea) from the latest middle Eocene Pondaung Formation of Central Myanmar. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 25, 214-227.[0214:NROPAR]2.0.CO;2
Marivaux, L., Adaci, M., Bensalah, M., Gomes Rodrigues, H., Hautier, L., Mahboubi, M., Mebrouk, F., Tabuce, R., Vianey-Liaud, M., 2011. Zegdoumyidae (Rodentia, Mammalia), stem anomaluroid rodents from the early to middle Eocene of Algeria (Gour Lazib, Western Sahara): new dental evidence. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 9, 563-588.
Marivaux, L., Lihoreau, F., Manthi, K. F., Ducrocq, R., 2012. A new basal phiomorph (Rodentia, Hystricognathi) from the Late Oligocene of Lokone (Turkana Basin, Kenya). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32, 646-657.
Marivaux, L., Ramdarshan, A., Essid, E. M., Marzougui, W., Khayati Ammar, H., Lebrun, R., Marandat, B., Merzeraud, G., Tabuce, R., Vianey-Liaud, M., 2013. Djebelemur, a tiny pre-tooth-combed primate from the Eocene of Tunisia: a glimpse into the origin of crown strepsirhines. PLoS ONE 8, e80778.
Marivaux, L., Essid, E. M., Marzougui, W., Khayati Ammar, H., Adnet, S., Marandat, B., Merzeraud, G., Ramdarshan, A., Tabuce, R., Vianey-Liaud, M., Yans, Y., 2014. A morphological intermediate between eosimiiform and simiiform primates from the late middle Eocene of Tunisia: macroevolutionary and paleobiogeographic implications of early anthropoids. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 154, 387-401.
Martin, T., 1994. African origin of caviomorph rodents is indicated by incisor enamel microstructure. Paleobiology 20, 5-13.
Merzeraud, G., Essid, E. M., Khayati Ammar, H., Marzougui, W., Adnet, S., Marivaux, L., Tabuce, R., Vianey-Liaud, M. Des dépôts marins depuis la fin de l’Eocène moyen sur la bordure orientale de l’île de Kassérine : sédimentologie de faciès et stratigraphie séquentielle de la série sédimentaire du Djebel el Kébar (Tunisie centrale). Bulletin de la société géologique de France, in review.
Osborn, H. F., 1908. New fossil mammals from the Fayûm Oligocene, Egypt. American Museum of Natural History Bulletin 26, 415-424.
Pickford, M., Senut, B., Morales, J., Mein, P., Sanchez, I. M., 2008. Mammalia from the Lutetian of Namibia. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Namibia 20, 465-514.
Sallam, H. M., Seiffert, E. R., Steiper, M. E., Simons, E. L., 2009. Fossil and molecular evidence constrain scenarios for the early evolutionary and biogeographic history of hystricognathous rodents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 106, 16722-16727.
Sallam, H. M., Seiffert, E. R., Simons, E. L., 2010a. A highly derived anomalurid rodent from the earliest late Eocene of Egypt. Palaeontology 53, 803-813.
Sallam, H. M., Seiffert, E. R., Simons, E. L., Brindley, C., 2010b. A large-bodied anomaluroid rodent from the earliest late Eocene of Egypt: phylogenetic and biogeographic implications. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30, 1579-1593.
Sallam, H. M., Seiffert, E. R., Simons, E. L., 2011. Craniodental morphology and systematics of a new family of hystricognathous rodents (Gaudeamuridae) from the Late Eocene and Early Oligocene of Egypt. PLoS ONE 6, 1-29.
Sallam, H. M., Seiffert, E. R., Simons, E. L., 2012. A basal phiomorph (Rodentia, Hystricognathi) from the late Eocene of the Fayum Depression, Egypt. Swiss Journal of Palaeontology 131, 283-301.
Seiffert, E. R., 2006. Revised age estimates for the later Paleogene mammal faunas of Egypt and Oman. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 103, 5000-5005.
Seiffert, E. R., 2012. Early primate evolution in Afro-Arabia. Evolutionary Anthropology 21, 239-253.
Tabuce, R., Marivaux, L., 2005. Mammalian interchanges between Africa and Eurasia: an analysis of temporal constraints on plausible anthropoid dispersal during the Paleogene. Anthropological Science 113, 27-32.
Tabuce, R., Adnet, S., Cappetta, H., Noubhani, A., Quillevéré, F., 2005. Aznag (bassin d’Ouarzazate, Maroc), nouvelle localité à sélaciens et mammifères de l’Eocène moyen (Lutétien) d’Afrique. Bulletin de la société géologique de France 176, 381-400.
Tabuce, R., Marivaux, L., Lebrun, R., Adaci, M., Bensalah, M., Fabre, P.-H., Fara, E., Gomes Rodrigues, H., Hautier, L., Jaeger, J.-J., Lazzari, V., Mebrouk, F., Peigné, S., Sudre, J., Tafforeau, P., Valentin, X., Mahboubi, M., 2009. Anthropoid vs. strepsirhine status of the African Eocene primates Algeripithecus and Azibius: craniodental evidence. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 276, 4087-4094.
Takai, M., Shigehara, N., Aung, A. K., Tun, S. T., Soe, A. N., Tsubamoto, T., Thein, T., 2001. A new anthropoid from the latest middle Eocene of Pondaung, Central Myanmar. Journal of Human Evolution 40, 393-409.
Vandenberghe, N., Hilgen, F. J., Speijer, R. P., 2012. Chapter 28: The Paleogene period. In: Gradstein, F. M., Ogg, J. G., Schmitz, M., Ogg, G. (Eds.), The Geological Time Scale 2012. Elsevier Science Ltd, Oxford, pp. 855-921.
Vianey-Liaud, M., Jaeger, J.-J., Hartenberger, J.-L., Mahboubi, M., 1994. Les rongeurs de l’Eocène d’Afrique Nord-Occidentale (Glib Zegdou (Algérie) et Chambi (Tunisie)) et l’origine des Anomaluridae. Palaeovertebrata 23, 93-118.
Wood, A. E., 1968. Part II: The African Oligocene Rodentia. In: Remington, J. E. (Ed.), Early Cenozoic Mammalian Faunas Fayum Province, Egypt. Peabody Museum of Natural History Yale University, New Haven, pp. 23-105.
Wood, A. E., Wilson, R. W., 1936. A suggested nomenclature for the cusps of the cheek teeth of Rodents. Journal of Paleontology 10, 388-391.
Zachos, J. C., Dickens, G. R., Zeebe, R. E., 2008. An early Cenozoic perspective on greenhouse warming and carbon-cycle dynamics. Nature 451, 279-283.